Friday, August 6, 2010

Hope for the Future

I have been doing everything I can to get back on track and nothing seems to work long term. I have tried many things that have worked in the past and yet my body still seems to be spiraling downward and out of control. At times I am so tempted to throw in the towel...enough is enough. I am 30 years old and I have basically been dealing with one injury since I was 18 and thus all of the complications that come with an injury and still training on it--compensation. So, for the past 12 years I have been trying to fix my hamstring problem and now it is worse as my whole left side is unhappy and has been since May. I have been dealing with this more than half of the years I have been running. Just writing that sentence makes me want to cry, but for some reason I am still feeling the desire to train and to run hard, to try to reach my potential whatever that might be. So instead of burning all of my running shoes I am going to gather them up along with some running clothes and head west to the other side of the mountains to try to get some help figuring out what is wrong with me and hopefully learning the best way to return to top form. There is a biomechanics guru that has helped a lot of different runners with a lot of different types of problems, and despite being warned that we might not find the "smoking gun", the guru himself seemed confident that he will be able to figure out what is going on with my body and how to come back from this injury. So, I am hopeful.

Knowing that I have had some decent results in the past while battling this does give me hope for the future though. I haven't made it through a cycle or season since high school without losing precious time training to address an injury. So, one of the key components to successful distance running hasn't been there for me, ever--and that is consistency. My coach and PT have done a phenomenal job at dodging injuries and keeping me moderately healthy and able to show up at some starting lines feeling ready, but that deep ache in my upper hamstring was always there impacting some part of the performance (even if it just hurt my confidence and not my physical ability). And I am tired of constantly wondering how my body is going to rebel next. So, I am diving in and ready to face down and do whatever I need to in order to be healthy and training at level that is needed for post-collegiate running. And once I am over this hurdle, it is going to make the good races that much sweeter! I can't wait.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Coming Back to Life!

Today I got called "old school" by an old guy*.

Today's workout (which was a really good one, I might add, but I'll get to that) I was joined by Chris Bittinger--or "Bit" as he is sometimes referred to. Upon discussing the day's mission while warming up on the trails around Monument Valley Park (while he calibrated his GPS...or Garmin....or whatever that was...), he asked me how I typically determine my average mile pace in a workout. I just told him that since I start workouts in the exact same place pretty much every time I do them (the exact place in this case being the little bridge up by the parking lot at Monument Valley) and that the distance from there to this random little tree a ways down and around the trail past the Second Bridge (the Bridge-to-Bridge bridge, I know, I know...the terminology is terribly confusing. Don't even get me started on Upper Loop, Big Loop, Small Loop, Middle Loop, and Around the Water Fountain) is a mile, then I usually just check my watch when I pass the Little Tree Down Past The Bridge-to-Bridge Bridge to see where I am at and then just try to maintain that pace. It's all very technical you see. With that explanation he laughed at me and called me old-school. I call it being Technologically Impaired. I don't have a heart-rate monitor, or a GPS, or a Garmin, or any of those fancy bells and whistles. I do have a stopwatch however, and I would really like a measuring wheel. Anyways, the point of this is that I am not very techno-savvy, however I justify this by saying that the Kenyans don't have Garmins, and they're pretty decent at this running buisiness. But even if I did have any of those things it would take me about two years to figure out how to use it, by which time it would be obsolete and it would be necessary to learn how to use something fancier. It practically boggles the mind.

I was really happy though post-workout because it was by far the best workout that I've had since early March, and last Sunday was my longest long-run in an equally long time. Plus, it was incredibly helpful to have someone pushing me the whole way, I forgot how much I like not doing the workouts solo. The occasional solo run or workout isn't bad, but having someone else to pace off of is immeasureably helpful and actually reminded me of how to be competitive. I was starting to think I forgot how.

And thanks to the help of Chris's Garmin or GPS thingydoo or whatever, we could determine how much ground was covered and pace per mile more accurately than we could through the use of my Bridge to Little Tree Down Past The Bridge-to-Bridge Bridge Measurement Method. However I still can't invest in one of those things because he spent the cooldown overanalyzing things worse than I already do without it. Nonetheless, technology is amazing!

As long as the wheels stay on, the future is looking bright and shiney!

*For clarification purposes and in defense of Chris, he is actually not "old." He is, in fact, a pretty kickass middle distance master's guy. I just consider anyone older than me to be "old(er)", and anyone younger than me to be a "whippersnapper". So he is "old" only in that context. And since they say that you're only as old as you act, that makes him about eight.


I did my first ever Rock n Roll event last weekend in Chicago! It was a blast. I love coming back here to race. I always see a lot of people I know plus I love the city atmosphere. Having bands along the course was really nice too.
The race went great...I felt really strong the whole way and ended up with 1:13:36. I really only planned on running marathon pace but it just felt too slow. And what can I say.... I got a little competitive about half way through.
I stayed a couple days at sea level to get in another big workout before heading back to altitude today. I'm so sad to be leaving! I really love it here.
But I don't love the heat and humidity. We were in southern illinois a couple days ago for my grandmas bday and the heat index was 110. I ended up in the ER. I was freezing cold and couldn't stop shaking. Turns out it was just dehydration so I kind of feel like a wimp but I'm glad I'm ok!
I also don't love the traffic near the city. It took us about an hour and a half to move 10 miles yesterday.
So I will probably be sticking with Colorado for the time being. But I'll be back in a couple months for the marathon and I can't wait!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

On the road again...

I love running because it truly is a lifelong sport. There is rarely a time when I have thought, "Well I've hit my PR, I think I'm done now." Even when we reach that long-awaited goal, we make another and another, always striving for the next step. That's one reason why I love this team, it allows you the freedom to continually improve your running without a ton of pressure to perform 365 days a year, as well as having the patience and understanding that runners get hurt.

I had a very rough 2009 season, with injury after injury. I got so discouraged. After getting a cortisone shot in a bursa in my knee in February, I have been pain-free and slowly building up mileage and intensity. I finally feel like after 5 months of good base and slow progression, I have made some good progress. It hasn't been the easiest journey, my first 5k back I ran 19:45. One week later at Sailin' Shoes I ran 19:07. This past weekend I ran the Evergreen Town Race in 18:16. I am so pleased with the progress and after being laid up for so long, and I realized that I had to enjoy the journey. Fitness never comes quickly, but getting there doesn't have to be a job. I have a new coach who is incorporating some much needed drills and circuit training into my running. I feel stronger and more balanced already and I am trying to do my part by being consistent with both running and drills. I plan on running the Park to Park 10 miler in September and ultimately hope to be in great shape for Club Cross.

I have to do some 'shout-outs' because this has been a really tough journey for me and I owe them one. I want to give a big thanks to Cody for keeping me on the team even when it looked like I would never be healthy again, Mark Plaatjes for always knowing what is wrong and for all the help with my form, and to Jay for being patient with me, loving me through the bad times and for being my most dependable running partner ever (even when it is a 5:00 AM). See you all on the road!