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Cherry Tree 10 Miler & Week in Review

February 19th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts - (16 Comments)

Thanks to those who entertained my ridiculous ramblings on improving my hill running and provided suggestions. Bottom line, it seems like running hills and practicing form is the only way to really improve at them– surprise! I also acknowledge that half the battle is mental, with hill running and running in general. The mind controls the body, and I’ve certainly experienced times mid-race when I let negative thoughts get the best of me for no reason, slowing my stride and becoming defeated. Conversely, the best races and runs are often the ones where I’ve been so positive, optimistic, hopeful, and worry-free. Maybe I need to stop thinking about it too much to avoid selling myself short, since it can often be amazing what the body can achieve when the mind doesn’t place limitations.

Anyway, this past week was a good one– complete with MORE hills and a fun little tempo/race at the Cherry Tree 10 Miler.

Week of 2/10:

  • M: Easy 8 with Veronica + BodyPump class at NYSC
  • T: Morning hill workout 6 x Central Park West side hill (86th to 92nd) + warmup/cooldown
    • The prescribed workout on tap was 6 repeats of a bowl-shaped hill workout, starting at 86th street in Central Park and heading north to 92nd street (right around entrance to tennis courts, around .36 mi), recovering around .17 mi, and then doing that same stretch in the opposite direction.
    • I actually preferred this hill workout vs. Cat Hill or Harlem Hill repeats because each interval contained a bit of uphill and bit of downhill, like you’re running a U-shaped bowl. I liked that they were slightly longer and better mimic Boston’s rolling hills. Yes, I still lagged behind the group but tried to work on my form and getting each repeat faster. Going north, my pace dropped from 6:38 to 6:32, and going south my pace dropped from 6:58 to 6:49. Could be better, but we also started at like 6am and it was 17 feels like 4 degrees out. Brr.
  • W: Easy 7 solo on Randall’s Island & East River path
  • R:  Off, skipped team tempo to rest up for Sunday
  • F: Easy 7.25 with Alex & Jacy. It had snowed, sleeted, rained, thunderstormed, etc. on Thursday so we were a bit unsure how the footing in Central Park would be early Friday morning, but we decided to brave it and be crazy together. Getting to and from the park was a total slushfest, but the packed snow made for easy footing and it was quite peaceful to run against the sunrise and fresh snow in the near-empty park.
  • S: Off, and I didn’t change out of spandex all day watching Olympics & Millrose Games
  • S: Cherry Tree 10 Mile Race in 1:12:33 (recap below) + warmup/cooldown

Total: 48.75 miles, pretty consistent with last week before hopping up to 50+ this week.

Source: NYCRunningSource

Source: NYCRunningSource

On Sunday, I headed to Prospect Park for the PPTC Cherry Tree 10 Miler. I did this race two years ago when training for Boston (sigh, I miss being in quicker shape…and wearing shorts) and enjoyed the low-key atmosphere and change of scenery. And, it was only $25 which is a cheap compared to ever-increasing entry fees for other races. While many other CPTC teammates signed up for the relay option they have too, my friends Alex, Meredith and I decided to be crazy enough to tackle the whole 10.

I didn’t really have any expectations leading into this race besides using it as a long tempo effort and keeping the pace steady but not full out racing. I knew there would be no way I’d come close to the 1:06 I ran in 2012, so it was nice to not really have pressure against a time goal. As you can see above, the never-ending snow and freezing temperatures made for less than ideal conditions in the park. While not terribly icy (thank goodness!) the residual snow and patchiness made for a very sloppy course and I never felt fully confident with my footing or smoothly settled into a groove. But I sure was thankful that this year’s race souvenir was a neck warmer–I would have paid a good $25 for that alone! It was around 20ish degrees and there were actually frozen ice chunks in mine after the race. Yuck.

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 11.03.22 AM

3 loops of Prospect Park elevation

Prospect Park overall is pretty forgiving– the uphill is far longer and more gradual than any hill in Central Park but certainly not as steep. However, it’s complimented by a nice downhill that evens things out in my opinion. Three loops of the park was pretty mind-numbing, but thankfully Meredith and I ran together the majority of the race which was great. She pulled away on the last uphill and really motivated me to hang on and finish the last mile strong to keep her in sight. As always, running with friends always helps the miles fly and pushes me to keep pace. I may have joined the dozens of kids happily sledding in the snow otherwise…

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 11.03.16 AM

The first loop was a bit quicker than intended, so we just tried to settle in to find a steady pace. The paces are a bit inconsistent given the rolling up and down terrain, but I felt the effort was pretty consistent throughout. Unfortunately, I had to stop on the 6th mile to tie my shoelace and lost a few seconds there– whoops! I was definitely feeling beat towards the end and was just happy to get my last mile under 7.

cherrytree2

Source: NYCRunningSource Also, slipping on this icy snow was not the most fun way to finish.

We had planned to run a longer cool down back into Manhattan via the bridges, but the sidewalks seemed a bit too treacherous and icy so we stuck to (yet another) loop of the park and called it a day. Since I’m not quite ready to tackle anything too long, it was still perfect for me and I ended the day with a bit over 16 miles.

Overall, I’m happy with this effort and pace but just wish it didn’t feel so hard. I’d like 7:15 pace to feel a little more casual tempo at this point in training, but that’s okay. It was a bit slower than the 10 Mile Run to the Brewery I did about a month ago, but that race was also pancake flat, a tad warmer, and not slushy. Even though I’ve got a month of training and workouts under my belt now, it’s tough not to compare since I felt pretty strong that day. While every workout or run might not be the best, I need to remind myself that progress is a slow road. I’m glad I did the ‘race’, and it’s one step closer to building fitness.

CPTC post-race

CPTC post-race

While this week brought more snow yesterday (whyyyyy!) I’m excited for milder temperatures to roll through for this weekend’s long run! There’s still a bit of lingering soreness in my legs and calves from Sunday that I’m trying to kick so I can have a strong 8 mile tempo tomorrow and finally crack the 50 mile/week barrier. T-how many days until Spring?

Uphill Battle

February 12th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts - (7 Comments)

Lately, I’ve found myself googling (among other ridiculous things) “Are certain people worse at running uphill?” “Why am I bad at running uphill?” “Will I ever get better at running uphill?” Shocker, none of these searches returned any sort of new-to-me information or gave me answers to why it seems I’m incapable of running well on hills.

Hills have always been my weakness for as long as I can remember. In high school cross country, I used to power down the bowl at the Holmdel course but find myself moving in slow motion, getting passed, on the short but steep uphill. In college, we sometimes did hill repeats towards the end of easy runs and I was always. dead. last. and totally out of breath.

I mean, I know running uphill likely sucks for every runner and nobody particularly enjoys it, but I have to say that not only do I loathe it, I am exceptionally bad at it. Like really bad. It’s like I’m missing something in my legs that makes it possible to power up a hill. I am actually pretty decent at running downhill, which I have learned is a strength in itself. Friends who can tackle hills and not slow to a crawl, want to trade?

Unfortunately for me, ‘they’ say Boston training should incorporate hill training. Fortunately, hills are a regular part of our runs in Central Park, going up either Harlem Hills and/or Cat Hills nearly every day. Our CPTC coach has been prescribing hill repeats for our Tuesday workouts as of late, which is actually a nice change from speedy intervals, particularly on cold winter mornings.

With each workout I’m reminded of how bad I am, despite remaining mentally positive and trying to lean into the uphill, keep my gaze ahead, pump my arms, etc. I just can’t get with it, but I’m hoping that with continued, repeated practice, it can start to suck a little less. I’ve also started to incorporate more leg strength work at the gym, like squats and lunges, that I’m hoping will make my muscles nice and strong to carry me through Boston’s rolling hills.

And with that rant (and invitation to share your hill running tips!), is last week’s training in review:

Week of 2/3: 

  • M: Easy 7 mile run in the snow + 55 min BodyPump @ NYSC
    • The snow was coming down pretty hard and the outer drive of Central Park hadn’t been plowed, but thankfully the fresh snow packed well and it wasn’t too bad to run on. I left a change of dry clothes at the gym before my run so I could go to a BodyPump class afterwards, and enjoyed lots of aforementioned squats and lunges.
  • T: 6x Cat Hill Repeats + warmup/cooldown = 8.3 miles
    • With the previous snowfall, most of Central Park was pretty icy and unstable to run on. Thankfully, the car lane of Cat Hill was plowed relatively well and we could do 6 repeats up Cat Hill (~.25 mile), running downhill for the recovery. This workout sparked my above frustrations with hill running, as I just couldn’t get in a groove and fell behind my group. My repeats varied around ~7:22-7:34 pace which (for me) …uh… could be better. The sunrise and the fresh snow was really pretty though?
  • W: Off
  • R: 4.05 mile counter clockwise loop, ~3 min recovery, 2 mile lower loop + warmup/cooldown = 11.7 miles
    • 4.05 miles in 28:18, averaging 7:00 pace (7:07, 6:49, 7:13, 6:48)
    • 2 miles in 14:00, averaging 7:00 pace (6:57, 7:03)
    • This workout was pretty challenging for me, as I felt alright on the first 4 mile loop but couldn’t pick up the pace as prescribed on the 2 mile interval. Welp, at least it wasn’t slower.
  • F: Easy 6.8 miles solo around Randall’s Island for a change of scenery + 15 min weights
    • Legs felt incredibly dead on this run and I struggled to maintain an easy 8:30 pace and not walk
  • S: 14 mile long run, averaged 7:53 pace
    • I stayed out later at a friend’s going away party on Friday night, so I opted to skip the early group run in favor of extra sleep. I finally dragged myself out the door around 1 p.m. to do two big outer loops, one counter clockwise and one clockwise. I felt better than expected after the previous day’s slogfest, and didn’t bore myself to death while running alone. I even picked up the last few miles in the 7:30s/7:40s, so this was pretty okay as far as solo long runs go.
  • S: Off

Total: 47.7 miles

And so far, this week has been full of more freezing runs avoiding the snow and trying to conquer my nemesis of uphill running. But hey, Boston’s course is net downhill, so that’s net in my favor, right? :)

Source: http://www.boston.com/sports/marathon/course/elevations/

ETA: Because the blog world is ever full of criticism, I thought it might be worth noting that this post isn’t meant to evoke pity or self-deprecate in that annoying, compliment-seeking way that people often do. While I acknowledge I have many strengths in running, going quickly and smoothly uphill is just not one of them. And that’s okay! Working on it, one hill at a time. I’d love your input on how I can get better!

Back to workouts: 2 weeks in review

February 6th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts - (27 Comments)

It feels silly to start by complaining about the weather, but let me have my moment. This winter has been pretty ridiculous here in New York City so far, and like you, I’m more than ready for spring. While I certainly enjoy and appreciate having four seasons and love a fresh snowfall, the last month has been especially brutal with continued snow, ice, and the #OMGpolarvortex that seems to have finally subsided (for now.)

My little apartment patio. Okay, the snow is pretty sometimes...

My little apartment patio. Okay, the snow is pretty sometimes…

Nonetheless, I’m proud to say I’ve resisted the treadmill so far and have done 100% of my runs outdoors– I’m also a little stubborn. Through “10 feels like -6″ and near-blinding sideways snow , I’d rather bundle up with everything I own and not be able to feel my face than sweat it out running stationary indoors. I know the tricks (Netflix! A killer playlist! Increasing the speed gradually!) but for me, it takes far more mental energy to get through a short run or workout on the treadmill than just sucking it up outdoors.

I also attribute this shift to having friends to run with! The last time I used a treadmill more than once in a winter was in 2011 when I was training for the NYC Half-Marathon (training log) This was before I joined Central Park Track Club, and I recall getting a fair amount of snow and ice that winter as well. Dragging yourself out the door in the dark and cold to workout to meet people is far easier than doing it alone, especially since I did most every run alone that winter. Sad times!

Anyways, I’ve returned to doing workouts twice a week and …they’re not so bad. I’m giving myself time to get used to ‘quicker’ paces and put in the effort I can given the conditions outdoors. Here’s how the last two weeks panned out:

Week of 1/20:

  • M: Off
  • T: 9 miles easy + lift
    • I accidentally set my alarm for PM instead of AM and slept through meeting friends for a morning workout. By the time I got out the door around 9AM, the heavy snow had started and visibility and footing was pretty bad. Scrapped the workout for an easy run. Hey, it happens.
  • W: 6.5 miles easy
  • R: CPTC workout @ night: 2×2 miles, 1 mile
    • 2 miles @ 14:21 (7:11 pace)
    • 2 miles @ 13:36 (6:48 pace)
    • 1 mile @ 6:48
    • Central Park had been hit with snow and wasn’t totally clear, so our coaches modified this workout to be entirely on the West Side. The first 2 mile started at the 72nd St statue up to the peak of Harlem Hill, recovered, then turned around and did it backwards. The last 1 mile was from 72nd St statue up to ~88th street. Oh, those hills. Took me a while to warm up and get in the groove, but glad I did the whole workout!
  • F: 9.6 easy, freezing and actually couldn’t feel my legs to pick them up. + lift
  • S: Off- travel to Austin for a little weekend getaway with Kristen
  • S: Off- skipped planned easy 4

Total: 36.2 miles A little lower than my anticipated 40 because I skipped out on a short run on Sunday because I was a bit tired (understatement) from going out the night before.

Before things got weird in Austin

Before things got weird in Austin

Week of 1/27

  • M: Easy 5.9 in Austin. Felt good to wear shorts and a t-shirt!
  • T: Solo workout on the Great Lawn, 4x800s w/ ~400m recover
    • After getting in late from Austin the night before, I took to the Great Lawn around 10am for a solo workout. Let me tell you, these were really, really hard mentally. It was freezing and I wanted to do 1 or 2 more, but I could barely breathe with cold lungs. So, 4 it was.
    • My pace per 800 (or, .51-.52) ranged from 6:49/mile to 6:21/mile, so I was happy each got progressively faster. Little wins!
  • W: Off– Overslept because my phone died overnight. Oops!
  • R: Morning CPTC workout w/ friends, since I had plans at night. 2x5K of Harlem Hills, with ~1/2 mile recovery
    • 3.15 miles in 22:09 [7:10, 7:12, 6:49, (6:38 .15 mi pace)]
    • 3.13 miles in 22:23 [7:15, 7:31, 6:47 (6:44 .13 mi pace)]
    • We started at the statue, went up the west side and up Harlem Hill then looped through the 102nd street transverse. The 2nd 5K was the same thing in reverse.
    • I acknowledge that hills are NOT my strong point, so this workout was really tough for me. I definitely lost it on the 2nd 5K during the rolling west side hills but am happy I got back into the groove on the final downhill mile. Even though morning workouts are harder since I’m pretty tired at 6:30 AM, I was so happy to have friends to push me out there in 14 degree weather.
  • F: Easy 5.8 + lift
  • S: 12 miles, longest run to date!
    • I averaged 7:47 pace, which felt pretty quick for me and is a bit faster than I’ve been doing my easy runs. We must have gotten a bit excited that it was over 30 degrees out! I’m happy with that pace even though I lagged behind the group slightly before I peeled off home, since they were going longer than I can right now.
  • S: Off!

Total: 43.4 miles

I’m trying really, really hard to gradually build up my mileage. Right now, I’m still only running 5 days a week. Mileage on workout days add up quickly between the workout and the warm up/cool down, and I am ramping up long runs by 1-2 miles each week. I should be able to step it up to running 6 days a week in the next few weeks, but am continually adjusting my Boston training plan based off how I feel.

I’ve only been running consistently for about 6 weeks now, so I’m (as always) trying to be patient with my progress. I think I’ll aim for ~48 miles this week. I’ve already got a brutal hill workout under my belt from this Tuesday, and am mentally prepping for tonight’s CPTC workout of a 4 mile tempo followed by a 2 mile tempo with short recovery between. EEEEP!

Boston 2014 Training Plan & 10 Mile Run to Brewery

January 20th, 2014 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts | Race Recaps - (6 Comments)
Hoarding beers

I’m back with some good news– I’m running! Without pain!

As I mentioned back in November, my stress fracture was lingering around slightly longer than expected and I ended up taking off a little over three months total. Three months without any exercise means starting my Boston 2014 training cycle from scratch. While not ideal, I’m very excited to finally get back on the roads and kick off 2014 on a good note.

CentralPark

This was in the fall when I couldn’t run, but you get the point.

 

2013 was likely my lowest mileage year-to-date, and I never stayed healthy or uninjured for longer than 3-ish months at a time. By the time I got in a groove, I got injured again and had to take time off. It’s difficult to continually start from scratch every few months, especially since the first month or so of getting back in shape is the most challenging. However, I am optimistic that 2014 will be a year of consistent, healthy training! Even if that consistency doesn’t pay off in the form of PRs this year, I’m confident that it will eventually.

We’re only 90 days away from Boston 2014, and I’ve got all my fingers and toes crossed that I can make it to the starting line healthy! I think it’s too early to determine an accurate goal time, 3:05-3:10 sounds safe. While I’m still chasing sub-3:00 or even just a PR in 2014, I want to be realistic and gentle with myself considering the circumstances. We’ll see how the coming weeks go…!

I recently started using Running Ahead to map out a training plan and log my data, after my friend Veronica recommended it. It takes a bit to set up, but is super easy to use once you set up your calendar! Here is my dashboard (below) that summarizes my training data/upcoming planned workouts, my (tentative) training plan to help map out my daily mileage and weekly build up, and my calendar that shows my actual runs-to-date coupled with planned runs.

Training Dashboard on Running Ahead

Training Dashboard on Running Ahead

 

I like that you can also view others training logs to compare runs, workouts, plans, etc. and it tracks miles on each pair of shoes to know when to retire them. I’m definitely guilty of over-wearing sneakers way beyond their mileage! You might also notice I added a little widget to the sidebar here on the blog that automatically uploads my latest runs.

I’m a few weeks into actual training and hit 35 miles last week! The injury-prone, nervous voice in my head thinks I’m still running too much, too soon. I’m only running 5 days a week right now, which has helped, but will go up to 6 soon. I’m also spending a bit more time stretching, foam rolling, and doing strength work. Knock on wood (or, knock on healed bone?) it keeps me healthier.

This past weekend, a group of friends and I trekked out to Long Island for the Sayville Running Company 10 Mile Run to the Brewery. This is the second year we’ve done it and it’s a blast. It’s pretty flat and ends at Blue Point Brewery for unlimited beer! I didn’t fully run the race last year as I was in the midst of my weird knee/IT issue and pathetically ran/walked a few miles out and back. I had very low expectations this year as I hadn’t even run 10 miles consecutively or done any tempo work to date.

10 Mile Run to Brewery 1/18/14

10 Mile Run to Brewery 1/18/14

I ran mostly with my friend Kristen and we had planned to run the first half easy and pick it up from there. Once the gun went off, we found our ‘easy’ pace a lot quicker than anticipated! However, I just rolled with it and got into a groove and started picking it up around mile 5. I was definitely working hard to hold 7:00 and under pace, but felt really strong and steady. I could feel my competitive drive coming back as I focused on picking each girl ahead of me off one by one.

When the pace felt really difficult or I wanted to just slow down, I kept steering myself back to positive thoughts. While it sounds cheesy, I reminded myself that I was so grateful to be out there running at all. I wasn’t able to do this race last year and just spent the entire last quarter of 2013 on the sidelines. I was now on the roads able to hold 7:00 pace off minimal running and workouts. While small, what an accomplishment! The thought of running a marathon at that pace in a few months is a bit daunting, but this is a pretty exciting starting point.

Hoarding beers

Hoarding beers

photo 3 (1)

Winners get growlers & pint glasses

photo 4 (1) photo

With a little more time on my hands these days, I hope to be able to post here a little more frequently. I have a feeling I’ll sound like a broken record over the next few months, but I’m excited and motivated to start fresh and get back in shape. Let’s see what April 21st brings!

Keeping Sane While Not Running

November 21st, 2013 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts - (6 Comments)

Hi! It’s been about 10 weeks or so since I’ve posted, and surprise! I’m still not running because of my stress fracture.

“Typical” healing from a stress fracture is approximately 6-8 weeks depending on severity, speed of healing, etc. I spent the first six weeks in the air cast and the next three without running or weight-bearing exercise of any type, with the exception of the occasional recumbent bike ride– total snooze fest. I also popped calcium and vitamin D like it was candy, mmm.

I got a follow-up MRI around 8 weeks to determine whether the bone had healed and get clearance from my doctor to run again. In the days leading up to the results, I set out for a much-needed run or two (or three…) to clear my head. I started with a very easy, very slow mile, and felt no pain!

The morning of my doctor’s appointment, I reunited with my old running buds on the bridle path for a good 20 minutes. It was glorious, even with the 30-something degree temperatures and snowflakes. There was no pain, no tenderness, no iffy-ness (except in my lungs because I’m so ridiculously out of shape, but that’s a different story) so I felt pretty confident about getting the results that evening. Just like I had expected the last two months, I’d ease back into running right before Thanksgiving to get a solid base through December, ready to kick off Boston training strong in January.

False. The MRI results still show a slight stress fracture, so my doctor wants me to take an additional 3-4 weeks completely off.

Insert heartbreak. And more calcium.

I know I was a bad patient and I would probably never advise anyone else to run before getting cleared post-stress fracture, but 9 loooong weeks had passed, my shin didn’t hurt, and I craved fresh air and QT with my running sneakers more than ever.

There have been some pretty big changes in my life lately. Many emotions, but mostly excitement! These changes leave me craving that one thing that makes me feel most like myself and provides routine and structure in my life: running. (And, wine. Lots of it.)

So since I probably won’t be lacing up my sneaks until around Christmas time, I wanted to share the things I’ve kept in mind the last 2+ months. While I’m sharing these mostly as a personal reminder to keep my sanity, hopefully they can help anyone dealing with a similar injury or extended time off running.

  1. Respect your body. Your body is smart and pretty amazing at telling you what it needs. Unfortunately, sometimes injuries are a form of communication. Injuries are no fun, and I’ve sustained my fair share this past year (knee/IT? cab accident? stress fracture? 2013 was not my year..) However, I try to view injuries as your body’s way of telling you to slow down. When injuries strike, you suddenly become far more in tune with your body and start being nicer to it (icing, taking supplements, foam rolling, resting, etc.) Sometimes, we just need a break. Since I want my shin to get stronger than ever, I’m respecting this rest time and taking the full four weeks off again.
  2. Less time running = more time for other things you love! For me, that’s sleep and time with friends. For you, maybe it’s a new hobby or picking up another project at work! Remember all of those early mornings during training when your alarm goes off way too early and you curse it and long for a day to just sleep in? Well, when you can’t run, that day is every day! I’ve totally soaked this time up and try to get 9+ hours a night when I can, to make up for the nights of too little sleep. Instead of Thursday night team workouts, I spent most Thursday nights out with friends. Without a Saturday morning long run to wake up for, Fridays were suddenly wide open! And I felt zero guilt about staying on my couch all day if I wanted to. Don’t get me wrong, there were (are?) plenty of days I craved the feeling of accomplishment after a long run or feeling energized to start my day after a few miles on the bridle. But life is all about balance, and I’d like to think I do a pretty good job at this even when I’m seriously training. Spending even more time being able to say ‘YES’ to friends and new things helps take your mind off running, a bit.
  3. Cross-train or pick up something new. Depending on your injury, this is a great way to stay in shape and get your endorphin fix. Admittedly, I didn’t do this but would advocate it to most. I was told I could do non-weight bearing activities like swimming, core & upper body strength, and very easy recumbent biking. Honestly, I can count the times I cross-trained on one or two hands. Personally, if I can’t run— I’d rather do nothing and sleep in (see above.) I found the time suck of walking to and from the gym way too annoying and I just can’t get down with the recumbent bike or the miniature-sized pool at NYSC. However, I did try to go for hikes while traveling or long walks around the city, and have recently started lifting 5 lb. weights at the gym. Watch out for these guns.
  4. Keep it in perspective. During my junior year of high school, I was unlucky enough to get not one, but two, stress back-to-back fractures in my tibia (which is, apparently, the bone that still hates me ten years later.) At the time, it was devastating and I’m pretty sure I cried in my coach’s office every single day until I could run again. Dramatic much? I remember my coach telling me that I can run for as long as I choose to. Back then, I didn’t appreciate that simple advice and brushed it off. While not being able to run these last few months (or much this year) has been quite frustrating, I haven’t been too upset about it because it’s just a blip in my 12+ year running career— and hopefully decades more to come. Perspective. One injury or period off does not ruin your running goals and dreams; if anything, it reinvigorates you to come at them stronger than ever once you’re healthy.

Simple thoughts in my non-expert, personal opinion. Everyone has their own way of mentally and physically dealing with injuries and that’s okay.

To help cope with the lack of mileage in my life over the next few weeks, I’ll be jetsetting around the globe! I’m currently writing this from a coffeeshop in LA where I’m spending the week hanging with my sister before driving down to Palm Springs with her and my mom for Thanksgiving. Then, I’ll leave straight from LA on December 2nd to spend about 18 days traveling Thailand (!!) and Cambodia (!!) with two friends, Karen and Kara.

I simply can’t contain my excitement for this trip, which I hope will look something like ‘Eat Pray Love’ with a lot of thai red curry, elephant riding, Full Moon Party-ing, and sleeping on beautiful beaches. I also feel incredibly fortunate to have the time and resources to pursue a trip like this– sometimes I still have to pinch myself that it’s really happening.

Life has a funny way of working out, and while I can’t predict what the next month or year might bring, I’ll be heading back home to NJ for Christmas and diving into 2014 with a smile (and hopefully, a tan.) Vitamin D from the sun is good for healing bones, right?

Lehigh Valley VIA Marathon Recap: 3:19:43

September 12th, 2013 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Race Recaps - (8 Comments)

Also known as the race where I got a little more than just a medal at the finishing line.

But before we get there, here’s a spoiler: I ran a comfortable BQ with a 3:19:43, my first race in nearly 1.5 years. Hooray!

Last week, I wrote about my recent confidence-boosting workouts and plans for the race. While training had been going awesome, and I’ve experienced no back pain since the bike accident, I started feeling a slight twinge in my left shin on Friday morning following a tough workout on Thursday night. I wasn’t sure what to make of it: a normal soreness from training, or something more? Following my 14-miler on Saturday, I decided it was still just there and took off from running on Sunday and Monday. I decided to get my legs moving with a morning workout on Tuesday, and felt pretty crappy. But worse, my shin pain was pretty bad when I finished.

I’ve had two consecutive stress fractures before in high school, first in my right tibia and then in my left. I’m now pretty aware of what they feel like, and had no doubt in my mind that the pain was the start of a stress fracture. Enter race-week panic mode!

I weighed the pros and cons of both options:

  • Scrap the Lehigh Valley Marathon: Safer, more sane route for my health but total fail on the marathon front. If I took the next 5 weeks to cross-train, maybe the mild stress fracture would subside and I could still race Chicago? Unlikely and only time would tell. Even more depressing, I wouldn’t have a qualifying time to be able to run Boston ’14. Then, I’d be scrapping Lehigh, probably Chicago, and definitely Boston.
  • Run the Lehigh Valley Marathon: Run on a possible stress fracture and turn it into a definite stress fracture over the course of 26.2 miles. Drop out if my leg is about to snap in half. Get the BQ time and be able to race Boston ’14! See how things go, but most likely not be able to run Chicago.

Obviously, I went with the later and probably need to get my head checked out. I know everyone might not have made the same decision, but I was okay with potentially scrapping Chicago ’13. While I have been gaining confidence in my fitness, there is a slim chance I’d get minutes within my PR at Chicago, let alone under it. Running Boston ’14 will not only be awesome for all the #BostonStrong reasons we all love, but personally it’ll allow me more time to get back into PR shape and go for that sub-3:00 that still alludes me.

My pre-race prep was anything but normal. I had a stressful and off-schedule week leading up to the race due to work, staying way late and even working at the office overnight (I don’t know how night shift workers do this.) Pretty sure my diet of nothing but pizza, sour gummy candies and way too much coffee didn’t help, but I wasn’t too concerned because I love my job and at least the craziness took my mind off of the race and shin pain.

After a relaxing haircut and a nice long sleep on Friday night, I drove out Saturday afternoon with my friends Noelle and Veronica who were kind enough to accompany me on this crazy journey. We headed straight to the expo to get my bib (#999!), checked into our hotel, and had enough Italian food to feed a family of at least six.

I woke up race morning around 5 a.m., which was definitely not early enough to digest my pre-race oatmeal, banana and coffee for a 7 a.m. start, but I had no desire to set my alarm for the 4 a.m. hour. They drove me to the start, but traffic at the exit meant I was hopping out of the car at 6:45 a.m. and running on the highway offramp to make it to the start. Ooops!

Half asleep on the highway

I ran into Meg (hi, Meg! You had an awesome race!) and my teammate Audrey at the start, and easily hopped into the crowds a few minutes before race time. One perk of a small race= no strict corrals that make you feel like you’re going to war.

The gun went off and I tried my best to settle into an easy pace. My goal was to run around 8:00 pace, then settle into 7:50s for the bulk of the race, and then drop it to 7:40s or under the last few miles. Considering most of my training and long runs hover between 7:55-8:15 pace, I figured this was doable and would feel comfortable for 26.2 miles.

But of course, race day comes around and the adrenaline flows! My times early on were faster than I wanted, and I tried to reign it in but decided to go where the day took me. I even had to stop and tie my shoes, twice. My leg was feeling mediocre and after a few miles of pavement through neighborhoods and parks, I welcomed a soft trail.

I’d guesstimate about 75% of the race was on a light packed dirt trail along the canal, which was absolutely beautiful and scenic. If I lived closer, I’d love to do long runs there! I settled in, made a new friend named Greg who was also aiming around/under 3:25, and waited until mile 11 where my friends were waiting to hop in with me. The trails were great, but got very narrow at times where we had to run single file and that drove me a bit nutty.

Noelle ran with us for a few miles before hopping out around the half-way mark to get the car and drive to the finish, while Veronica did the rest of the race with me as the end of her long run (which was mighty speedy, it turns out!) I was capable of running the entire thing solo, but having a friend to keep me company was SO helpful! I felt incredibly strong and the miles just kept ticking off.

Look at how much fun we’re having?! I hate myself on camera.Running is flattering on nobody.

Things got a bit tougher mentally around mile 21, especially once my shin decided it had nearly had enough. Each step felt like a slightly painful jab, but I decided it wasn’t debilitating. Plus, I’m pretty stubborn and I wanted to finish the race since I had come so far.

With two miles to go, I realized if I kept around a 7:30 pace, I could break 3:20. I never entered this race gunning for time except a BQ with a cushion, but my competitive side kicked in and I decided to focus a little more on the last mile to get it.

Because I hate when my watch auto-laps/beeps ahead of mile markers in races, I typically manually lap split at the mile markers during races. I was too scatterbrained to remember to do this before the race, and then I missed some markers throughout, so the splits below don’t make sense in spots.

It’s also the first time I have ever negative split a marathon? I’m guesstimating around 7:42 pace for the first half, 7:31 for the second. I felt really, really good, and am really happy that I was able to hit a 3:19 relatively comfortably on just over 3 months of semi-consistent training. While my body might be a bit broken right now, I’m pretty impressed that I was able to bounce back after a rough winter and spring and get that BQ time with tons of wiggle room. You go, body. Sorry I fractured you.

Veronica, me, Noelle

After the race, I was so happy to finish but needed ice immediately. I met up with friends, grabbed a beer, and immediately hobbled over to the grass to sit and ice. Once we walked back to the car to head back to the hotel and hit the road, I noticed that I could barely put any weight on my right leg. The pain was so excruciating I couldn’t help but keep laughing because it was so ridiculous and stupid that I just ran a marathon on it.

Coincidentally, I had a regular doctor’s appointment scheduled for Monday morning at 9 a.m. so I was able to get my leg checked out and get an air cast boot to help alleviate the pressure when walking. I have a referral for a bone scan that I intend to get this week pending some doctor/insurance stuff, but I am 95% sure it’s a stress fracture so I’m looking forward to seeing the recommended healing time and how long I’ll have to be off of it.

In my experience, it’s about 6-8 weeks, which is just in time for base building…

So, there’s the good and the bad. I have a few things in mind that might have contributed to the injury but for my sanity, I don’t want to get hung up on them too much: I switched to a new model of lighter shoes for all my training runs about a month ago, and even though I was pretty cautious about building my mileage slowly, I increased the intensity of my workouts and long runs kinda quickly, etc. The reality is that sometimes these things happen, and I’m just adding it to the list of weirdo injuries that have plagued 2013 thus far.

And of course I get the bone scan results next week, all of the above is pure speculation based off my prior experience and how I feel. Until then, I’ll be taking a hiatus from the bridle and sporting these kicks, just in time for New York Fashion Week.