"Winning has nothing to do with racing. Most days don't have races anyway. Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism, and never, ever, ever giving up."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pink is the New Black

I'm in the final countdown to the Boston Marathon. I have put in the mileage. Balancing hills, interval runs, long mileage days, and rest days. My body has been physically exhausted, but I am in the best shape of my life. For the first time, about a month ago, I admitted that I have a chance at a career PR at Boston-which is a very challenging course. I was excited. Things have changed since then. It may no longer be about a PR but about simply finishing. Sometimes that's all you can do. But I know that my God heals, and so I hold on to hope.

I made a large error. I know better. I have been running in a pair of shoes since October (average 50-60 miles per week, you do the math). Too many miles on a pair of shoes. The Asics Gel Nimbus received the abuse. It's a heavier shoe, but boy is it comfortable. I finally decided to migrate to a lighter shoe (only about an ounce difference), thinking I might feel faster ;). I went to Run n Fun, and they suggested the Asics Gel Cumulus. It is basically the same shoe, with a little less cush. I ran one run in them, and decided I didn't like them as much as my other pair. Rather than going back to Run n Fun and getting a new pair of the Gel Nimbus, I decided to go back to running in my old pair of Gel Nimbus. For a short run, I may have gotten away with it, but not for a 22 miler. I have been struggling with pain in my shin for about two weeks now.

I have been doing everything I know to do for what I thought was shin splints (with the exception of not running) which will happen after the marathon. I have been icing, compressing, elevating, foam rolling, using The Stick, and using a golf ball for more direct self-myofascial release. Nothing was working. I have been numbing the pain with ibuprofen to get through runs. I took Saturday and Sunday off completely to run. I did my last long run (16 miles) on Monday morning. Everything felt difficult. My stride felt off (from over compensating), my breathing felt heavy (the mechanics of my running were off, thus tiring other muscles that aren't used to working as hard), and my calves started tightening up. Physically, my body felt beat up after the run. Mentally, I felt defeated and disappointed after all the work I've put in.

I got up and went to Lifetime to run today. I ended up simply showering and getting ready for work--completely skipping the workout. Yep, that much pain. When you go to the gym, simply to shower and get ready, you know you've reached the end of your rope. Today I finally went in to the chiropractor to see if their was anything that could be done. Whether chiropractic care or progressive rehab massage. After assessing the situation, he said he doesn't think it's actually shin splints as much as it is calf strain, wrapping around to the front. I think that's good news, as that can heal faster than shin splints. He adjusted my ankle, did some excruciatingly painful myofascial release with a fancy doctor tool, and taped my calf with hot pink ROCK tape (http://rocktape.com/). For any nerdy readers of mine that care to know what it does, it lifts and supports the muscle, and encourages increased blood flow to the injured area. I go in for another appointment on Friday. I was excited because today was the first day I was able to walk around and not feel the pain while walking!!!

Here's a picture of the tape job. The Rock website actually has instruction on how to properly tape, based on injury.

Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow I will take courage, face the option of failure, and try again. But I have hope.

"All our troubles and all our tears God our hope has overcome. All our failure and all our fear, God has overcome. All our heartache and all our pain. God our healer, He has overcome.

So take heart, let His love lead us through the night. Hold onto hope, and take courage again."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Running in Shorts and a Tank?!

I had the amazing opportunity to spend this last week out in Scottsdale, AZ at the beautiful Four Seasons Troon North Resort. I was looking forward to the relaxation, the sun, running amidst the mountains, reading my book, catching up with my good friend Stephanie, hanging out with Jim and Grace, and celebrating a great year in 2010. By night I was awestruck by the brilliant constellations that so often I miss living downtown Minneapolis. By morning I watched the sun work itself over the mountain peaks. As I woke up to run each morning I was speechless in light of the scenery that wrapped around me.

"God, brilliant Lord, yours is a household name. I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous, your handmade sky-jewelry, moon and stars mounted in their settings. Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, why do you bother with us? Why take a second look our way? Yet we've so narrowly missed being gods, bright with Eden's dawn light. God, brilliant Lord, your name echoes around the world." Psalm 8

On Wednesday morning, Jeremy got up early to take Steph and I to the airport. So we decided to run on the treadmills in Scottsdale. 5 miles and I had enough....I needed to get out of the gym and enjoy my surroundings!

Thursday morning I got up to run, hoping to run a little bit further. To my surprise, I struggled through this run, having to stop every half mile. At first I thought it was the elevation change, however, I was notified it wasn't that much of a difference. As I struggled to find a new hypothesis, I decided to blame it on the dry air. Although it was warm, it was dry. In Minnesota, it's chilly, but there's some moisture in our air. So Thursday's run was beautiful, but challenging. I worked my way to a park reserve and fought the dusty but groomed trail. I made it back to the hotel to have mustered out a 5 mile run. I have also been fighting shin splints in my left leg. I'll get to the shin splints later. I had to get back to the hotel because I had a 9:00AM appointment to get a Swedish massage! I will say, I have had NUMEROUS massages, but that was by far, the best massage I have EVER had! Peppermint oil, soothing music, deep tissue self-myfascial release massaging. One word: unbelievable. After the massage, I decided I should rest some more, so Steph and I headed to the pool for the rest of the afternoon. We went to to fitness center before getting ready for our evening event and I did a 3 mile tempo run. For the day, I logged 8 miles.

On Friday, I had to be to our business meeting early, so I only had time to run a quick 4 miler. This run felt much better (cardiovascularly), but my shin was still bothering me. I began getting a little concerned. We had signed up for a 10K the next day, but more importantly, the Boston Marathon is about a month away! I've worked too hard to be in pain.

On Saturday, Steph and I woke up at 5:30AM to meet Jim and Grace, to travel to Tempe, AZ for our 10k, called The Nun Run! Jim, Grace, and I ran the race; Steph was our fabulous cheerleader. Jim, Grace, Steph, and me, see below. All three of us ran in Fitsok socks :) I am so thankful to be sponsored by such a fabulous company. Thank you thank you thank you FITSOK!!!!

I took three ibuprofen to numb the pain in my shin. I decided that it wouldn't be wise to "race" the race. Boston is more important than injuring myself further. I decided to run, and to work hard, but not push too hard. The course was a 5k loop that we did twice. It had quite a few rolling hills. The ibuprofen did it's magic, and my shin didn't bother me at all. The only thing getting to me was the heat and the sun. The first loop wasn't so bad, but I really started to cook on the second loop. My body wasn't accustomed to the warm weather, after running in the tundra for months on end. During the first loop, I had two guys I was running with, but on the second loop I passed them and suddenly felt very alone. I had nobody to chase, and nobody chasing me, that I could hear. And so I prayed. I prayed for Jim and Grace, I prayed for the nuns and their building project, I prayed for Japan, I prayed for healing for Steph.

There was the 10k race, a 5k run/walk, and a 1 mile walk. It was difficult to run the second loop because we were dodging and weaving in and out of the walkers. There were walkers, strollers, dogs on leashes, and clumps of people to work through. I weaved in and out, and continued to make my way through the second loop. I finished the race in 44:57 (average 7:15 pace/mile). Ended up place as the 3rd female finisher, and 9th overall. I was pleased given the course, the weather conditions, and my conserved effort. I worked hard, but didn't feel like I had overdone it. Immediately upon finishing I wanted to get back to the course to cheer on Jim and Grace. Steph suggested water first, and I'm glad she did. We cheered on Jim and Grace as they finished the course.

Theme from the race: "Run like a nun; it's a good habit!" ;)

I'm so grateful God has given me the ability to run. I feel His presence as I run. I can't escape how big He is as I run. Sometimes it's the little things, like running, that reminds me how much God loves me, by allowing me to participate in little things that bring such great joy!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Miles Make Champions

I've taken a break from blogging. Not because I haven't been running. Not because I haven't had any thoughts, or any reports. This past week seemed a lot lower in miles compared to weeks past. Due to snow fall, icy patches, and the need for sleep my mileage decreased.

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 8 miles
Wednesday: 8 miles
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: 22 miles
Sunday: 4 miles

There was no hill workout on Tuesday, and there was no 12 mile UofM loop due to work. But there was consistency, and there was a 22 miler. And for that, I celebrate. It was a windy day, but sunny. I always wake up with anxiety before a long run. I question my training and my capabilities. But as I met the group, I knew it was just another Saturday. Another day, to show what I was made of. And that is what we did.

During my 22 mile run, I had a lot of time to think. Naturally, my thoughts drifted to a book I had been reading, Unbroken. A story of resilience. A story of perseverance. A story of a man, and his will to live. Not only did I align myself with Louie Zamperini, as a runner. But I found myself in the story with him, struggling along side him. In his pursuit of the 4 minute mile, I felt his sweat, his pain, his determination. As he ran, I was running alongside him. When his plane crashed, and drifted endlessly in the ocean, I feared the sharks, right along with him. When he got to the POW camps, my heart ached as I experienced his pain. The crimes committed against Zamperini weren't just against him, but against all of humanity. He was stripped of his dignity, he was demoralized, he was devalued. When one loses their dignity, you have to ask if they still remain a person? Dignity is what separates humanity from every other living thing. I chewed on this thought for a while during my run. I got to thinking about other human issues that are taking place. Human trafficking. When one's dignity is stolen, life itself seems to be extrapolated. A little heavy, but helped pass the time.

Going in to this next week is going to be interesting. I am heading out to Scottsdale, AZ. I will be going from the chilly tundra to the sunny desert. My mileage will be low, but it will be nice to run in shorts and a tank top. I plan on running a 10k on Saturday. Not trying to race it, given I've been running longer, but it'll feel good to run on flat, smooth terrain. Here's to warm weathered running!